June 13, 2008 Subject:
Not the usual rehashes
Lord Lennox's anecdotes go farther afield than such secondary sources as 'The Romance of the Road,' which never look beyond southern England. He has an entire chapter on coaching in Ireland, and sections on coaching in Australia and France. He mostly concerns himself with the oaching heyday before the coming of the railroads, but also covers the transition period. He writes for those like the members of the Four-in-Hand Club of his own day about the old Driving Club of 1808 and the Whip Club, their songs and outré costumes. He compares the old harness to that of his own day, and their abuses. For those not technically interested in driving, the best part are the many sections devoted to carriage wrecks and close calls, and the many characters he delineates, from dandies to working mail coach drivers. His level of personal experience makes him authoritative on how sitting uncomfortable inside was, so that he had rather get wet through riding outside, the frequency of highwaymen. His writing style is simple and chatty, drawing the reader easily forward through a charming miscellany of history and anecdote, until you feel like you have ridden the swaying coaches yourself.